Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sustainable Social Object Advantage.

When Jyri expanded the work of Bourdieu and Hyde amongst others and started to talk about object centred sociality, he used Flickr as an example. The photos were the object while sharing and commenting were the social gestures (or verbs as he would put it). The sociality was a source of competitive advantage.

An observation on her own behaviour made by Elizabeth Churchill in a recent talk prompted me to wonder about an unexpected side-effect of continuous improvement. What if your service develops in a way that changes your users behaviour and reduces their sociality?

Elizabeth spoke of how her former behaviour of being a frequent browser and commenter on Flickr had stemmed fom downtime while she waited for her pictures to upload. It is "former behaviour" because mobile upload has now been perfected. She uploads on the move and thus now uses Flickr solely as an archive and neither browses nor comments.

Yet again, improving a service towards seamlessness shows that seamfulness has its benefits. The formal raison d'etre may be improved, but is the overall user experience denuded? Perhaps social objects need to be in some sense "physical" (be that tactile or time-consuming) in order for the sociality to be sustained.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adaptive Path deal with a related topic in their book Subject to Change. Overdesigning the experience to make it too tightly controlled/coupled leaves no room for folks to get engaged in our own way. I think Faris also mentioned it somewhere in one of his posts on Transmedia Planning... "provide the dots but don't connect them". Let people do this in their own way (how they chose to do it may just surprise you!)

7:38 PM, August 02, 2008  
Blogger john dodds said...

Absolutely. The tension between technical improvement and user involvement is an all too often overlooked one. My view is that you can't dictate how people will use a service (or value a brand), yet the automation of online services are inevitably tending to just that end.

The fact that social objects are so beloved of the web 2.0 crowd while, simultaneously, the idea of not producing an ever-improving service is anathema to geeks was what prompted me to post.

As for Faris, I'll see if I can divert him briefly from his jet-set lifestyle to offer his opinion.

4:23 PM, August 04, 2008  

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